The Supreme Court, now with only eight justices, is set to hear arguments on April 18th in the Obama immigration case which is now being called United States vs. Texas.  In anticipation of this huge case, a group of California leaders in business, education, law enforcement and religion joined in filing a brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold President Obama’s plan to offer temporary relief and work permits to as many as 5 million immigrants who have been living in the U.S. illegally.

The California group of leaders told the court the undocumented immigrants who are working and raising families are making the state stronger.  In the court brief, they state “Representing just 7% of the state’s population, [the undocumented] make up 34% of its farm workers, 22% of its production workers and 21% of its construction workers according to one estimate…Today, the undocumented workforce alone contributes $130 billion to California’s gross domestic product (GDP) – an amount larger than the entire respective GDPs of 19 other states.”  The brief cites a UCLA study that estimates the DAPA program, if put into effect, “would generate 130,000 new jobs in California alone, increase the collective wages of undocumented immigrants in California by more than $5.5 billion annually and support public programs with $3.8 billion in new business, personal and sales tax receipts annually.”

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia on Feb 13th no longer gives the court’s conservatives a majority that would have likely rejected Obama’s executive action.  However, Obama’s lawyers still need at least one of the justices who is more conservative to back their side.  If the justices were to split evenly with a 4-4 vote, the tie would affirm the 5th Circuit’s decision preventing Obama’s order from taking effect.  Chief Justice John G. Roberts or Justice Anthony M. Kennedy would be the likely swing votes, as both joined in a 2012 opinion that rejected an Arizona immigration law that authorized local police to stop people and check their citizenship.